Q&A: Professor and Poet Kurt Heinzelman on Adelaide Writer’s Week

KH-Beggs photoKurt Heinzelman, English professor, founding co-editor of The Poetry Miscellany and advisor and editor-at-large for Bat City Review, has been publishing poetry for 30 years in such journals as Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Massachusetts Review and Southwest Review.

Recently, Heinzelman was invited as a featured author to Adelaide Writers’ Week, an important part of the larger Adelaide Arts Festival held annually in the South Australian capital of Adelaide and considered to be one of the world’s greatest celebrations of the arts.

The prevailing theme for the 2013 Adelaide Writers’ Week was the exploration of secret histories — covering topics as diverse as the ancient world, the British Royal Family, the Balkans, marriage, old age, video games, World Wars, folktales, art world scandals, court rooms, Australia’s convict past, wine making, Chinese food and afternoons on the beach.

Heinzelman answered some questions about poetry, his time at Writers’ Week, and his hopes for further interaction between The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Adelaide.

What poetic works of yours did you read and why did you choose those pieces for this festival?

I read two poems of modest length. The first, called “Visiting the Somme,” was about the battle during WWI and contained a reference to Gallipoli, a battle that still produces great poignancy among Australians. The second, called “Summoning Dolphins,” is an epithalamion, that is, a wedding poem, for my daughter and her Australian husband, and the poem contains many references to Australia.

While in Australia, you also gave a talk at the John M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. Could you tell us a little bit about the subject of translation and originality on which you spoke?

The précis for the talk was this: Ever since the idea of originality in poetic composition underwent a sea-change in the middle of the 18th century, the way we evaluate translation has borne the burden of that change, with confusing results. Originally, the term “originality” meant exactly the opposite of what it now means. Instead of meaning “the absence of ancestral origins” it meant “having an origin,” being grounded in the authority of the past, in tradition. This radical transformation of originality — this “translation” of the term — is one of the great shifts of aesthetic value in the history of human creativity.

But translations, of course, are always belated; they always come after an original. Of course translations know their origins. As Walter Benjamin bluntly put it, “A translation comes later than the original[s]” and not “at the time of their origin.” What chance does a translation have of attaining value when what is most valorized is originality?

How we assess the value of poetic translations is the subject of this talk. Ironically, the one time we use the word “original” in its original sense is when we are speaking of translations. And yet there is some sense in which translations are original, in both senses. If a translation is by definition belated, each new translation is . . . well, new. Assessments of the value of poetic translations, however, often criticize them for failing to be “original” in one sense because they are either overly or insufficiently “original” in the other sense.

As part of Adelaide Writer’s Week, you hosted an interview with esteemed and prolific Australian poet, publisher and editor John Tranter. What sorts of subjects did you discuss? As a fellow poet, is there anything you found particularly enlightening in the interview?

I was curious why, with the substantial body of work that he already has, he decided to pursue (successfully, as it turns out) a Ph.D. in creative writing! We also talked at length about the way he takes already extant poems by writers from earlier epochs and recasts them into his own “versions.” It’s not translation or adaptation or even imitation but a form of counter-creativity. I read some of the original poems and then he read his versions so that the audience of some 100 people, a tribute to Tranter’s importance and popularity, could hear exactly how he reshapes the originals into his own creations.

What can you tell us about further interaction between the University of Adelaide and The University of Texas at Austin?

This summer one of our graduate students in creative writing will spend a week in Adelaide acting as a mentor to their students who are moving from a bachelor’s program to a doctoral one. We are hoping in the near future for collaborations with the music composition graduate programs in both universities. The journal, Texas Studies in Literature and Language (TSLL), which I edit, will be publishing essays from an international conference that Adelaide will be hosting in 2014 on John Coetzee’s work. Coetzee, a UT Ph.D. and Nobel Laureate and resident of Adelaide, has placed his archive in the Harry Ransom Center, and there may be a chance to do an exhibition sometime in the future, one that might travel to Australia.

What projects are you currently working on? Any subjects or themes you are particularly interested in addressing in future poetry or scholarship?

I have a new book of poems coming out later this year, my fourth, and I’m working on a new one as well. Plus, I’ve become the writing of what may be a critical book on what I’m calling “Kinship Poetics.”

Kurt Heinzelman has authored three poetry collections: “The Halfway Tree” and “Black Butterflies,” both of which were finalists for the Natalie Ornish Poetry Award of the Texas Institute of Letters, and most recently, “The Names They Found There,” which was named one of the best poetry books of the year by Poetry International.

Author and Scholar, Elaine Scarry, Examines Beauty and Fairness

scarryHarvard University professor and award-winning author, Elaine Scarry, will share insight into how society thinks and talks about beauty and social justice at an event hosted by the Humanities Institute. The talk will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in ACES, AVAYA amphitheater, room 2.302.

In her book, “On Beauty and Being Just,” (Princeton University Press, 2001) Scarry not only defends beauty from the political arguments against it but also argues that beauty does indeed press us toward a greater concern for justice. Taking inspiration from writers and thinkers as diverse as Homer, Plato, Marcel Proust, Simone Weil, and Iris Murdoch as well as her own experiences, Scarry offers up an elegant, passionate manifesto for the revival of beauty in our intellectual work as well as our homes, museums and classrooms.

j6675Scarry teaches in the Department of English at Harvard University, where she is the Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and General Theory of Value. She has received many accolades, including the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism and honors from the American Academy of Science, National Humanities Center, Guggenheim Foundation and the Berlin Institute for Advanced Studies. Her essays have been included in Best American Essays three times, in 1995, 2003 and 2007. In 2005, Foreign Policy and Prospect named her as one of the world’s 100 leading intellectuals.

She has published seven books, two edited volumes, and numerous essays. Her first book, “The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World,” highlights the impossibility of expressing pain through words. This important book went beyond an analysis of classic literary texts to examine philosophy, medical case studies, personal injury trial transcripts, and documents of torture compiled from Amnesty International. Fore more about her work, visit this website.

The event is sponsored by the Viola S. Hoffman and George W. Hoffman Lectureship in the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Fine Arts.

Renowned Poets Read and Discuss their Works at Spanish an Portuguese Symposium

Posted by Molly Wahlberg, College of Liberal Arts

2484997“Extrañeza, Extranjería, Migración / Estrangement, Foreignness, Migration,” a graduate seminar in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese that convened between Sept. 25 and Nov. 9, recently coordinated with the department’s annual poetry event “Poéticas para el Siglo XXI / Poetics for the 21st Century.” The centralizing theme for both the seminar and the event, which took place on Oct. 27 and was free and open to the public, was the ways in which poetic language confronts and incorporates a variety of differences provoked by cultural contact in contemporary Spain. ?

Internationally acclaimed poets Concha García, Ana Rossetti, Jenaro Talens, Bahia Awah, Limam Boicha, Clara Janés and Abderramán El Fathi led graduate seminar class discussions during their residence around topics of poetic production and reception in Spain today. ? ?

Before the first poet arrived, the students examined recent trends in Spanish poetry and began reading poetry and theoretical works on the seminar topic. The poets themselves have lead class discussions during their residence around poetic production and reception in Spain today. Graduate students have conducted interviews of the poets, which they will publish in a special issue of the department’s graduate student peer-reviewed journal, Pterodáctilo.

The symposium culminated in a thrilling three-hour poetry reading, in which Clara Janés and Bahia Awah participated via Skype from Madrid, while Rossetti, Talens, El Fathi, García and Boicha read to a packed house in the Chicano Culture Room. The reading marked the first time that a Moroccan poet (El Fathi) has ever participated in such a forum alongside Western Saharan poets (Awah and Boicha).

About the poets:

Two of the invited poets, Limam Boicha and Bahia Awah, are from the Western Sahara, but they now reside in Spain, where they have had a powerful impact on Spanish cultural life. They are founding members of the “Generación de la Amistad” (Friendship Generation) and maintain a blog, “Poemario por un Sáhara Libre” (Poems for a Free Sahara), which streamed the poetry reading live to Western Saharans living in refugee camps in Africa.

Abderrahmán El Fathi was educated in Spanish schools in Morocco and completed his PhD in Seville, Spain. He is currently chair of the Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Tetuán in Morocco. His poetry, written in Spanish about Moroccan migration across the Strait of Gibraltar, earned him the Rafael Alberti Prize for literature in 2000.

Ana Rossetti, along with Clara Janés, Concha García and Jenaro Talens, is among the best-known living poets of Spain. Rossetti’s poems appear in every major anthology (and textbook), and they are taught in most US universities. A major figure of the Spanish cultural scene, Rossetti has written essays, novels, short stories, plays, an opera, song lyrics and fashion catalogue copy. In 2004, Jill Robbins, chair of UT’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, published an edited volume dedicated solely to Rossetti’s work: “P/Herversions: Critical Studies of Ana Rossetti.”

Clara Janés is a titan of Spanish letters. She has published 30 books of poetry, four novels, monographic books about composers, poets and cultural contact, a handful of plays, memoirs and more than 130 translations. She has received more than 10 prizes for both her literary work and her translations.

Concha García has published eleven books of poetry and has been the recipient of several literary prizes, including the prestigious Jaime Gil de Biedma prize for her book Ayer y calles.

Jenaro Talens, yet another major poet and important cultural figure in Spain is a professor at both the University of Valencia and the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Talens held a visiting appointment for 10 years at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He is the author of 23 books of poetry, along with scholarly monographs and articles in leading peer-reviewed journals about film, poetry and critical theory.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark to present “From Civil Rights to Human Rights” on Monday, Nov. 12

Attorney General Clark and President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.

Attorney General Clark and President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967.

Ramsey Clark (Plan II, ’49), who served as attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson, will present a talk titled “From Civil Rights to Human Rights” on Monday, Nov. 12, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Law School’s Eidman Courtroom. The event is free and open to the public.

William Ramsey Clark was appointed assistant attorney general of the Lands Division by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, when Clark was only thirty-three years old. After his tenure as assistant attorney general, Clark served as deputy attorney general from 1965 until 1967, when Johnson appointed him the 66th U.S. attorney general. Clark served as the attorney general until the end of the Johnson Administration in January 1969, and played an important role in the administration’s civil rights agenda, including supervising the drafting of the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

Following his term as attorney general, Clark worked as a law professor and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He undertook two unsuccessful Senate campaigns in New York. Clark became an anti-war and human rights activist, founding the International Action Center, and speaking out against the United States’ 1991 and 2003 military invasions of Iraq. Author of New York Times best-seller “Crime in America,” Clark served as legal counsel to many controversial figures, including Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein. In 2008 he received the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Prize.

Clark was born in Dallas. At the age of seventeen he joined the Marine Corps and served in Europe in the final months of World War II. He received a bachelor’s degree in Plan II from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from the University of Chicago. After completing his education, Clark joined his father’s Texas law firm, Clark, Reed and Clark, where he remained until he was appointed assistant attorney general. Clark’s father was former U.S. Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, ’22. Justice Clark’s papers are housed at the Law School’s Tarlton Law Library.

The talk is co-presented by the two centers at the Law School — the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. Student organization co-sponsors include the Public Interest Law Association, the Texas Journal for Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, and the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society.


Psychology Professor James Pennebaker Wins $10,000 Hamilton Book Award

book.pennebaker

James Pennebaker, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, won the $10,000 grand prize at the Hamilton Book Awards for his book, “The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us” (Bloomsbury Press , 2011) on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

The awards are the highest honor of literary achievement given to published authors at The University of Texas at Austin. They are sponsored by the University Co-operative Society.

In “The Secret Life of Pronouns,” Pennebaker uses his groundbreaking research in computational linguistics – in essence, counting the frequency of words we use – to show that our language carries secrets about our feelings, our self-concept, and our social intelligence. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints.

Two faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts received $3,000 runner-up prizes for their books. The honorees are:

books

Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Department of Sociology
“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?: Abortion, Neonatal Care, Assisted Dying, and Capital Punishment” (Routledge, 2011)

Circe Sturm, Department of Anthropology
“Becoming Indian: The Struggle over Cherokee Identity in the Twenty-first Century” (School for Advanced Research Press, 20111)

The Hamilton Awards are named in honor of Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regent Chair-Emeritus in Law. Professor Hamilton was chair of the Co-op Board for 12 years, from 1989 to 2001, and was in large measure responsible for the Co-op’s uncommon growth and profitability during that period. Visit this website for more about the 2012 award winners.

A Q&A with Kathleen Marie Higgins, Author of “The Music Between Us”


978-0-226-33328-1-frontcoverFrom our first social bonding as infants to the funeral rites that mark our passing, music plays an important role in our lives, bringing us closer to one another. In “The Music between Us: Is Music a Universal Language?” (University of Chicago Press, June 2012) Kathleen Marie Higgins investigates this role, examining the features of human perception that enable music’s uncanny ability to provoke — despite its myriad forms across continents and throughout centuries — the sense of a shared human experience. Her interdisciplinary and richly researched study showcases the ways music is used in rituals, education, work, healing, as source of security and, perhaps most importantly, joy.

Higgins, who is a philosophy professor at The University of Texas at Austin, recently answered some of our questions here at ShelfLife@Texas about the transcendent power of music – and how it is one of the most fundamental bridges in human society.

What is your musical background, and how did you become interested in the philosophy of music?

I was a music major as an undergraduate, playing piano and organ. I was especially interested in the way music related to ideas and culture more broadly, and taking a course in the music of India led me to start reflecting on the differences among musical traditions. I did graduate work in philosophy, but among my philosophical interests from the beginning was philosophy of music.

What are some modern discussions being held by philosophers who study music?

One set of issues concerns the ontology of music — questions about what constitutes music, musical performances and musical works. Another focuses on why music affects us so powerfully. Philosophers of music consider such issues as whether or not emotional arousal and/or expression is the purpose of music or whether these are simply byproducts; the basis for the connection between music and emotion; whether music that expresses given emotions also arouses these same emotions; and what the object of the emotion is in the case of emotion generated through music.

Philosophers of music also discuss the ways that music relates to ethics. Can it make us a better or worse person, and if so how? What is involved in musical understanding? For example, how much attention to structure is essential? How music is like or unlike the other arts? How music is like or unlike language? What is the proper basis for evaluating and valuing music? How and why music functions politically? And what does music reveal about our minds and our world? I’m tempted to say that music offers an angle on just about any topic in philosophy.

In the book you mention the qin, a Chinese unfretted lute, which is so sensitive that ambient air currents can produce sounds and even the grain of the musician’s fingerprints on the strings can be heard. What other unique musical instruments or musical techniques have you encountered in your research about the universality of music?

Probably the most interesting I’ve come across is a practice in one New Guinea society of putting drone beetles in one’s mouth in order to use one’s own body as a resonator for the sounds of the beetles. Another New Guinea people, the Kaluli, perform duets with various natural sounds, such as those of waterfalls and cicadas. The ghatam, a South Indian instrument, is a clay pot. One of the things I notice when I encounter instruments and techniques such as these is the tendency to find musical possibilities in materials and phenomena in everyday life.

I’m often struck by the various timbres utilized in music, whether produced by instruments or the musical voice. The first time I heard a crumhorn, I found the character of the sound rather humorous, even though the crumhorn was not designed for that purpose. I also find highly nasal vocal styles a bit comical, but in some cultures they are standard and highly prized. My reactions in these two cases makes it clear to me how much the musical practices of our own society determine what we take to be the norm, and how sounds that aren’t utilized (or utilized much) in those practice can strike us as aberrant.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting chapters in your book is “What’s Involved in Sounding Human?” At the risk of being reductive, can you explain some of the research you included in the chapter to answer the question, “What is it to sound human?”

The question itself suggests that human beings employ only a subset of the available sonic possibilities in music, and this is certainly the case. Not surprisingly, we make music in the area where the human powers of hearing are most acute. The octave above a note is treated as the “same” note in most respects. Human beings prefer intervals of relatively simple ratios of frequency vibrations, and the simplest (the octave and the fifth, in particular) tend to be prominent in most musical systems around the world.

Human beings typically make music in “pieces.” We tend to use a centering tone (called the tonic in the West), which is perceived as the tone of a scale that is the most stable, and other tones have various degrees of relative instability by comparison. Music tends to employ lots of repetition within a piece and within smaller components of a piece. There is some tendency in most musical cultures for musical utterances to end with a descent in pitch. All these tendencies show up virtually everywhere that people make music. Human beings have a signature way of making music, just as songbirds and humpback whales do.

What do you find most fascinating about the connecting power of music?

What interests me most about all this is the fact that even though music from another culture might be formulated on very different principles than the music we are most familiar with, and even though it might sound exceedingly foreign, it is geared to our perceptual faculties and is structured of patterns that can be recognized quite readily if one is familiar with the musical idiom. This is not to say that it is easy to “get” foreign music right away; some of our perceptual habits may even interfere, as when we are expecting one kind of tuning or rhythmic organization and encounter another. But it does suggest, and some experimental evidence bears this out, that we can improve in gaining an orientation in foreign music in a relatively short time. So we shouldn’t conclude from the fact that it is challenging that an unfamiliar type of music is foreclosed to us. The popular claim that music can communicate across cultural boundaries may understate the challenges in some cases, but the basic idea is right.

Are there any non-musical societies that we know of? Or are there societies scholars consider decidedly less musical than others?

No, it appears that music plays a role in every human society, and that it serves a cluster of functions (creation of social cohesion, emotional regulation, indication of socially significant occasions and promoting health, for example) virtually everywhere.

What’s next for you and philosophy?

I’ve been working on issues in the philosophy of emotions, in particular on the nature of grief. I’m interested in how grief motivates and is expressed through art and other practices that have an aesthetic dimension. Music plays an important role in this connection; lamentation is one of those ubiquitous ways that we humans use music. So although this new project isn’t about music as such, music will be a part of it, and no doubt other projects I pursue in the future.

New Writers Project Launches Touring Authors Series at BookPeople

panorama-city-by-antoine-wilsonThis October, the English department’s Master of Fine Arts program, now known as The New Writers Project, is kicking off a New Writers Tour featuring book talks by up-and-coming writers at BookPeople.

The first event will feature a reading and signing by Antoine Wilson, author of “Panorama City” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept. 2012) on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The book talks are free and open to the public. Go to this website for more details.

About the book: Open Porter, a self-described “slow absorber,” thinks he’s dying. He’s not, but from his hospital bed, he unspools into a cassette recorder a tale of self-determination, from village idiot to man of the world, for the benefit of his unborn son.?

Written in an astonishingly charming and wise voice, Panorama City traces forty days and nights navigating the fast food joints, storefront churches, and home-office psychologists of the San Fernando Valley. Ping-ponging between his watchful and sharp-tongued aunt and an outlaw philosopher with the face “of a newly hatched crocodile,” Open finds himself constantly in the sights of people who believe that their way is the only way for him.?

“Panorama City,” received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, calling it “fresh and flawlessly crafted as well as charmingly genuine.” And Peter Carey, a two-time Booker Prize winner, described the novel as “filled with joy and wonder, and a sort of goodness you had stopped believing might be even possible. Antoine Wilson’s sentences are like diamond necklaces but his greatest treasure is his human heart.”

About The New Writers Project:
The two-year program is an opportunity for serious writers to study with established authors at The University of Texas at Austin. It’s a program where students lead their own workshops and are trained in a nationally ranked English department. With the guidance of award-winning faculty and visiting writers, students have an opportunity to focus on one genre (fiction or poetry) and complete a manuscript by the end of their second year.

“The New Writers Project recruits poets and fictions writers who are already showing great promise, and provides them with the time and space to continue developing their talent,” says Oscar Casares, associate professor in the Department of English and director of The New Writers Project. “As an extension of the program, The New Writers Tour features writers who have received critical praise but are still relatively early in their careers. Ultimately, this is about the discovery of talented writers and of where we expect them to be before too long.”

For more about The New Writer’s Project, take a look at their recently launched website.

“Swamplandia!” Author to Speak at Plan II Honors Event

Donoghue-articleInlineBest-selling author Karen Russell will come to campus on Thursday, Sept. 27 to talk about her novel “Swmaplandia!” and other literary works. The event, hosted by the Plan II Honors Program, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Joynes Reading Room, located on the east side of the Carothers Building.

Russell’s debut novel, “Swamplandia!” (Thorndike Press, 2011) tells the story of the Bigtree family, which runs an alligator-wrestling theme park deep in the Florida Everglades. The 13-year-old narrator sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to rescue the park from ruin after finances go south and family members disappear.swamplandia

The story of “Swamplandia!” first appeared in Russell’s highly acclaimed collection of short stories, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.” In 2012, the novel was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Russell’s stories have been anthologized in “The Best American Short Stories” and published in Granta, Zoetrope and the New Yorker, where she was also featured among 20 outstanding writers under the age of 40. Her next collection of short stories “Vampires in the Lemon Grove,” will be published in February 2013.

The event is sponsored by the Mary Lu Joynes Endowment in the Plan II Honors Program, the New Writers Project in the Department of English, and the L.L. and Ethel E. Dean Endowment in the School of Undergraduate Studies.

Government Professor Wins Major Grant to Curb Violence, Urge Diplomacy in Egypt

lg Jason Brownlee, associate professor in the Departments of Government and Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, has received a $109,484 grant to examine peace-building efforts in Egypt.

The funding, provided by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), will enable Brownlee to determine whether the rise in Egypt’s anti-Coptic violence comes from underlying social tensions or from lack of government interventions.

Nationally known for his expertise in authoritarian rule in the Middle East, Brownlee studies democratization and U.S. foreign policy. In his new book “Democracy Prevention: The Politics of the U.S.-Egyptian Alliance” (Cambridge University Press, September 2012), he explains how America’s alliance with Egypt has impeded democratic change and reinforced authoritarianism over time.

As Egypt moves forward in its effort to consolidate a democratic transition, this initiative will provide timely and informed guidance for nongovernmental organization workers, policymakers and officials in Egypt who are working to reduce societal conflict in a country pivotal to U.S. policy in the region, said Steve Riskin, the special assistant to the president for grants at USIP.iran_election1

“The study, which accords with USIP’s mandate to resolve violent conflicts and promote postconflict peace-building, will yield important insights for other Middle Eastern countries with religious minorities, including Syria and Lebanon with Christian and other minority groups,” Riskin said.

Created by Congress to be independent and nonpartisan, USIP works to prevent, mitigate and resolve international conflict through nonviolent means. During the past 20 years, the institute’s grant program has awarded more than 2,100 grants in 46 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and in 87 foreign countries. The grant program increases the breadth and depth of the institute’s work by supporting peace-building projects managed by nonprofit organizations including educational institutions, research institutions and civil society organizations.

Jeremi Suri: How to Make America Great Again

cvr9781439119129_97814391191293In a world rife with political and economic turmoil, President Obama’s re-election campaign has been put to the test. From the rolling economic crisis in Europe, to the intensifying conflict in Syria, to the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a daunting array of global issues have complicated the 2012 presidential election.

Recent headlines from around the world reinforce a reality for Obama and any of his successors: Nation-building can only work when the people own it. Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, argues that the United States has too often forgotten this truth over the course of its history of foreign policy.

This is one of the five principles of successful nation-building that Suri outlines in his book “Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama” (Free Press, Sept. 2011). In what he calls “the five Ps,” he draws a new model for building successful relationships overseas and abroad.

The book, now available in paperback, combs through more than 200 years of U.S. policy to explain the successes and failures of nation-building operations.

Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, discusses the many reasons why American citizens need to dream beyond the world they live in today.

Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs, discusses the many reasons why American citizens need to dream beyond the world they live in today.

From Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War, to the ongoing rebuilding of Iraq, Suri draws lessons from past mistakes and offers a plan for moving forward.

Although “Liberty’s Surest Guardian” focuses on politics and foreign policy, the patterns of change apply to all areas of life, Suri says. In this eight-part Knowledge Matters video series, watch him discuss the importance of nation-building – and why dreaming big is a critical component of societal progress.